HPC Past Events

Historic Structures—Slide Show & Presentation
Town of Rochester


WHEN:  April 20, 2009 @ 7:00 pm
WHERE:  Rochester Reformed Church, Route 209, Accord
For more information or directions to the Reformed Church, please call 626-7104 or 687-9998.


        Clear your calendars and come out for what promises to be an interesting and exciting presentation of some of the Town of Rochester’s most historic properties.


Kyserike resident and preservation expert Harry Hansen will take participants on a ride through time for a glimpse of the town’s frame, plank, and log homes, as well as many former resorts, small hotels, boarding houses and bungalow colonies. If you missed Mr. Hansen’s previous report on the town’s historic stone and brick homes, now is your chance to take a virtual tour of some other remarkable properties.


The Rochester Historic Preservation Commission was very fortunate to receive funding for this project from Preservation New York, a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts. Only 14 communities received such funding.


So, don’t miss this rare opportunity to learn about the amazing number of historically interesting features of our town.   Rochester is known for having one of the largest inventories of 18th and early 19th century stone houses in the United States. It is rich in history and culture, and the Historic Preservation Commission hopes residents and others interested in local history will join the town in recognizing the unique character of one of Ulster County’s best-kept secrets.


Bring yourself, bring a friend, meet some neighbors, have some FREE REFRESHMENTS, and most of all—have a great time!


Cultural Resources Survey, Phase II
Featuring Log structures, Plank and Frame houses, and Resort Buildings


With the help of a grant from Preservation League of New York State, the Town of Rochester Historic Preservation Commission is researching facets of Rochester’s architectural treasures and will share the information with Town residents. The study, called a cultural resources survey, will update an earlier one from 1993. The consultant for both surveys, which includes photography and written analysis, is Harry Hansen, of Kyserike Restorations in High Falls, a leading preservationist. When his survey is completed, Hansen will present the results to Town residents in a variety of local forums.
The main emphasis of Hansen’s current work is structures from the 19thand 20th centuries that were affected by the presence of the Delaware & Hudson Canal and after that, the Ontario and Western Railroad. It was a time when agriculture flourished and local residents welcomed thousands of New York City residents to its summer resorts. The buildings include, including small hotels, rooming and boarding houses and bungalow colonies.


The previous survey that Hansen completed focused mainly on Rochester’s stone and brick structures, and barns.  The photographs and written descriptions of those structures are contained in a series of notebooks that are available for review at the Town Hall and at the Museum at 12 Main Street, Accord.  The 64-page study is also available on line on the Town’s Web site:http://www.townofrochester.net/Pages/RochesterNY_BComm/hpc/Hansen-Report-1995.pdf.  In addition, properties in the Town that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including photographs, are on the Town’s Web site at this address:http://www.townofrochester.net/Pages/RochesterNY_Historian/History-Inventory-Public.pdf.


In order to create visual records of the buildings being included in the survey update, Hansen, assisted by Alice Cross, Commission Chair, has been photographing notable frame, log, plank and resort structures.  The records, both written and visual, are being used solely for survey purposes and will become important elements of our Town’s historical records.


Once the current survey is complete, Harry Hansen will be presenting his findings at a meeting of the Town Board. Keep an eye on the Town’s Web site and local papers for the exact date and time. Eventually, this valuable report will also be available at Town Hall, the Museum, and on the Town’s Web site, www.townofrochester.net.


If you have any questions or suggestions, please call Alice Cross at 687-9998.



Town of Rochester — Winter, Spring and Summer, 2008


The Historic Preservation has been meeting regularly and is pleased to report the following:


Veterans Park
        After extensive conversations between the Preservation Commission and the Town Board, the Town Board passed, at their regular meeting on June 5, 2008, a two-part plan for honoring the Veterans who have served our country in both war and peace and who are, or have been, residents of the Town of Rochester.
        The plan calls for installation of a stone monument near the flagpole in the Town Park, at the entrance to Town Hall.  The brass plaque to be affixed to the stone will express the message of honoring all who have served.
        The second part of the plan is to establish a Veterans Park to be located at the north end of the Municipal Parking lot and behind the Museum of Friends of Historic Rochester, on land that belongs to the Town.  The design for this space, approximately 75 feet by 100 feet, is to use a number of large stones, each raised on a base (“floating”), that are being donated to the project by Napanoch Correctional.  Brass plaques will be attached to each of the stones.  One will commemorate all who have served in peace and war.  The others will specify particular wars throughout American History.  Additional features will be a flagpole, benches, split rail fencing, grass, and some plantings.
        We are very pleased that our Town’s veterans finally will be getting the recognition and appreciation that they deserve by establishment of this two-fold plan.


Special Programs
        On January 21, 2008, a program was presented by Douglas Mackey, Field Representative for Archaeology from the New York State Historic Preservation Office.  Additionally, Mackey teaches Native American Studies, Archaeology and Anthropology at Marist College and SUNY New Paltz.  The first archaeological “dig” that he directed some years ago was at one of Mohonk’s Native American rock shelters.
        Mackey emphasized that the point of archaeology is to discover history of ordinary people, “the common man.”  Archaeological research provides new information that history books don’t tell us, about the lives of previous residents in a particular area.  Potential research sites are those that contain artifacts from which we can learn something about the past that we don’t already know.
        The historical significance of a site may come from its architecture, or from its connection with an important event or person.  Archaeological significance depends on potential research value of the site.  A valuable archaeological site may be a place where Native Americans lived or passed through, but it may just as well be the backyard of a stone house built by European settlers.  Both can tell us a good deal about the every day lives of previous residents, from the food they consumed to the tools they used, Mackey explained.
        Archaeological review of a site looks for a balance between preservation and development, for compromise between protection of artifacts and plans of the developer.  Usually, an archaeologically important site is identified by making test borings but not doing extensive digging which actually destroys the site.  Then the developer can be requested to adjust the building plans so as to make the least impact on the artifacts under the surface of the site.  Mackey explained that most archaeological sites are not candidates for digs, but rather should be left undisturbed.  It is anticipated that future developments in archaeological methods may well enable investigation of artifacts that  are located beneath the surface of the ground without doing any actual digging at all.
        In answering questions about the listing of local properties on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, Mackey explained the value to the community of identifying and safeguarding its historic assets, and the advantages to the individual property owners, including tax abatements, funding opportunities, and pride of ownership.


        On April 21, 2008, representatives from the Town of New Paltz, Historic Preservation Commission members John Orfitelli, David Gilmour, and consultant Neil Larson, came to share their experiences with aspects of historic preservation: establishment of a Local Law for Historic Preservation and Certified Local Government, landmarking of individual properties, and formation of local historic districts.
        The following aspects of historic preservation were discussed and illustrated with colored slides:
                Reconnaissance Survey on the architectural assets and history of the town;
                Rural Historic Districts to protect agricultural assets and open space;
                Commercial Historic District;
                Local Historic Districts in hamlets;
                State and National Register eligibility and degree of threat to the asset;
                Local Preservation Law that preserves and protects the heart and soul of the    
                Certified Local Government status provides eligibility for grants of state money.  New Paltz has used these grants to develop: 1) a public outreach brochure,
2) an inventory of historic open space and rural properties, 3) documentation for significant properties, and 4) public workshops for historic preservation.
        What are the benefits of landmarking and historic districts?  
                Benefits are: promotion of physical development consistent with the history and culture and setting of the area; encouragement of individuals and businesses to invest  in our local heritage and culture by featuring the historical significance of the building or establishment; maintaining the value of the property; and, promotion of personal satisfaction and pride of ownership.
        “We need to celebrate our history.  There is so much to lose.”


New Signage
        Signs for six hamlets have been installed — Pataukunk, Cherrytown, Liebhardt, Kerhonkson, Alligerville and Kyserike.  Six more are on order.
        The historical marker on Route 209 denoting the Militia Training Field was demolished by an unknown vehicle.  This will be restored as soon as possible.


Submitted by Alice Cross, HPC Chair
June 6, 2008